How recording 1 second of today can change your life

  • December 20, 2019
  • By WashU Olin Business School
  • 3 minute read

Students today seem to approach life full steam ahead, fielding questions like, “Where are you working next summer?” or “What are you doing after graduation?”

It’s not often that you hear people talk about time as something that can, or should, be slowed down.


Emily Su, BSBA 2022, is a strategy fellow for Bear Studios, a student-led consulting firm on campus. She wrote this for the Olin Blog. She is studying finance and economics and strategy with a minor in philosophy.


In high school, I watched a TED talk that introduced the idea of recording one second of each day. By the end of 2016, I had a roughly 6-minute long video of the past 365 days.

This project, not one of physics or science, enabled me to slow down time and rewatch my life. After all, the more memories we have in our memory network, the more reference points we have to look back upon, and the fuller we perceive our lives to be.

Now, each time I rewatch my videos, I travel back to 00:00:00 and relive that year.

There are always moments of simplicity—moments easily forgotten, but nonetheless integral to my college experience, like a St. Louis sunset overlooking Mudd Field.

There are memories that I would have rather forgotten in the moment, like walking out of a technical interview where I couldn’t answer half of the interviewer’s questions.

But there are also moments of pride and joy, like being admitted into one of WashU's business fraternities and meeting new mentors and peers who would become my closest friends.  

Emily Su

Together, these clips are no more than a few gigabytes of data on my computer’s hard drive, but they have contributed more to my perspective on life than I ever would have imagined.

When I sit down to rewatch one of my videos, I am reminded once again of the incredible brevity of time. I’ve realized that both the ups and downs are always going to be present in my life, and thus can be vital learning experiences if reflected on properly.

Now, as a sophomore in Olin Business School, the benefits of my recordings are indisputable. I almost forgot that in early 2016, I volunteered at a nonprofit that taught underprivileged children the basics of saving and spending.

This experience is what prompted me to apply to business school in the first place: I had realized that I wanted to find the intersection between business and philanthropy.

After watching my 2016 video and re-familiarizing myself with my original passions and interests, I joined Bear Studios with the hopes of uplifting companies and individuals in a business environment.

Beyond redefining our professional aspirations, these videos can also push us to live more in the moment. What use are disappearing Snapchats or Instagram stories when we have everlasting highlight reels of our lives?

As students, we’re constantly searching for the next rung of the ladder: the next class, the next internship, the next step in our lives. But we now have the ability to slow down time and keep everything in perspective—and if we can take advantage of something that unthinkable, we can apply it to the challenges that lie ahead.

About the Author


Washington University in Saint Louis

WashU Olin Business School

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